• Airports and air traffic control organisations sometimes carry out short-term trials to gather data and validate possible proposals for future requests for changes to the UK airspace structure.

    • This means that for a short period aircraft may be flying different routes to the published structure.
    • Government policy states that as these trials provide a valuable contribution to the efficient use of UK airspace we should encourage their use.

    The policy also states that the organisation carrying out the trial is not normally required to carry out a consultation before doing so. But the Secretary of State’s policy does place an onus on us to consider the information the airport or air traffic control organisation gather on the environmental impact of a trial to establish whether a consultation/engagement is required. This will be based on information provided by the airport or air traffic control and take into account the level of environmental impact, the length of the trial and the environmental objectives given to us by the Secretary of State. If there is a consultation we will confirm to the airport or air traffic control organisation the level of engagement/consultation considered appropriate.

    Due to the Secretary of State’s role in managing noise at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted if a trial is now proposed in the vicinity of these airports the organisation proposing the trial will also discuss the issue of consultation with the Secretary of State for Transport’s office.

    Any trial will have a fixed start and end date and if, after the trial, the organisation running the trial wishes to make the change permanent then the full airspace change process, including consultation, will be required.

    How to get involved

    If you have comments about a current trial then they should be made to the airport or air traffic control body running it. If any comments are sent to us then we will log these and send them on to the airport or air traffic control body.

    How to send us your comments on a current trial

    Where an airport or air traffic control organisation is conducting trials on airspace or procedures that do not fall under our airspace change procedures (such as the operational freedoms trial at Heathrow) then, apart from being satisfied that the trial is safe, we have no other involvement.